Nike announced Tuesday the company is releasing its first apparel line designed specifically for yoga, including its first ever yoga apparel for men, according to a Nike blog post. The line is available in stores and online this month, per the post.
The retailer is using a group of professional athletes across various sports to promote the new yoga apparel, including NFL linebacker Khalil Mack, WNBA player Alana Beard, NBA player Kevin Love and sprinter Christian Coleman, among others.
In addition to launching a yoga line, the retailer is also releasing new yoga workouts on its app, a collection called "Enhance Your Training with Yoga," which focuses on helping athletes reach particular goals, like "finding strength and stability, improving endurance and getting more flexible," the retailer said.
Nike's latest announcement could have Lululemon and Athleta sweating. While the retailer has offered yoga-related products in the past, this is Nike's first yoga-tailored sportswear line, and the fact that it's already offering men's yoga apparel puts it in a good position to challenge Lululemon, which is still focusing on building a male customer base.
While Lululemon's first male-centered campaign in September 2017 focused on the definition of strength, masculinity and awareness, Nike is taking an entirely different approach, highlighting yoga as a supplement to other workouts and emphasizing how it helps professional athletes from all different sports compete better in their respective spaces.
The retailer's blog post calls yoga a "secret workout weapon" and the messaging seems aimed at being more inclusive than the more elite vibe of yoga-focused athletics brands like Athleta and Lululemon. Jamie Jeffries, vice president and general manager of Nike Training, indicated that this isn't a one-time interest for Nike and consumers could expect more products to come in future seasons.
"At Nike, we're dedicated to giving athletes every edge we can, and we know yoga is essential to reaching another level of athletic performance and mental strength," Jeffries said in comments emailed to Retail Dive. "We see a big opportunity to innovate in this space, including Nike's first yoga-specific apparel collection for men and a new Collection of yoga workouts through our Nike Training Club app."
In addition to putting Lululemon on watch, the move into yoga shows Nike isn't hitting pause on its innovation pipeline. In recent months, the athletics retailer opened two House of Innovation flagships with customization elements and mobile-heavy convenience features, and has plans to expand a smaller Nike Live format that localizes merchandise and rotates the assortment every two weeks.